Health Care on the Front Line
Nursing's New Century at UND
From caps to computerization, nursing education has changed over the century.
“The hallmark white uniform is no more,” remarked Julie Anderson, dean of UND’s College of Nursing. “Today, the scope of practice is so varied, and students have many options besides the traditional bedside nurse.”
A century ago, when nursing instruction was first offered at UND, the education mostly consisted of hands-on training in hospitals. Nurses were expected to do everything from scrub floors and empty bedpans to administer medications, sharpen needles and
The scope and responsibilities of the profession are different now, and so are the students.
One big difference, notes Marlys Escobar, director of student and alumni affairs at the College of Nursing, is that generations ago, nursing was a two-year program, and getting buy viagra online a four-year RN degree was a big deal.
Today, she observed, “many students are ultimately looking beyond that.” Even as they begin their nursing studies, some are planning on graduate degrees that will allow them to take on advanced patient care, become administrators, family nurse practitioners, and more.
The program has changed as well. Students still receive hands-on training. And they learn theory, too: why what they do works. “Nurses want technical skills,” said Anderson. “It’s critical to connect theory to practice.” That connection helps them better think through patient care. They learn through textbooks and computer modules, as well as the latest in technology: patient simulators.
Patient simulators are basically high-tech “dummies” that are able to speak, show pain, and react to treatment. Their biggest advantage is that professors can use them to simulate not only routine conditions but also rare situations. This ramps up the students’ abilities to deal with unusual cases.
The sims, as they’re called, don’t replace clinical experience in education, but enhance it. “The simulators will never replace hands-on care and personal interaction with patients,” Anderson said. “They let us provide high-risk experiences that most students would never encounter in school. They get experience before they enter practice and refine their skills.”
“The simulators are wonderful tools,” added Escobar. “These smart ‘dummies’ really increase the lab experience, and students love them. They’d do simulations every day if they could.” The sessions are recorded for students to watch later. “They can receive immediate feedback on their clinical performance, including what they did and didn’t do well,” Escobar said. Students are not graded on the simulators — they're viewed as a learning experience. “Students want to do well, no matter what,” Escobar explained. “They take simulation very seriously, and they’re high achievers.”
UND students are well prepared, say employers. “Our clinical sites have always told us that students were well prepared,” noted Anderson. “Now they say that our students are even more so, and asked what we were doing. It’s the simulators. They noticed the difference.”